- Melissa Sweet, freelance journalist specialising in health and medicine in Australia (email@example.com)
Esomeprazole campaign is first to be scrutinised
Doctors are being duped by an effective but misleading advertising campaign for a new proton pump inhibitor, says a new watchdog on pharmaceutical advertising.
The founders of Adwatch (www.healthyskepticism.org/adwatch.asp), an interactive web based analysis of “the logical, psychological and pharmacological tricks” of drug advertisements, have called on Astra Zeneca to amend its promotional claims for esomeprazole (Nexium). They say the advertising is based on unfair dose comparisons and also fails to compare the drug with appropriate alternatives, including non-drug therapies such as elevation of the head of the patient's bed.
Since its launch in Australia in August last year, esomeprazole has captured more than 10% of the rapidly expanding market for proton pump inhibitors, which treat gastro-oesophageal reflux and other acid-related problems. The number of scripts for proton pump inhibitors dispensed under Australian government-funded subsidy schemes has almost tripled over the past four years, reaching 9.2 million in 2002-3.